CASE: Estate Planning Legal Services, P.C. v. Michael G. Cox
CASE NO: Warren CA2006-11-140, -12-141
PANEL: Presiding Judge William W. Young, Judges H.J. Bressler and
Stephen W. Powell
JUDGMENT: Affirmed in Part, Reversed in Part, Modified and Remanded
TRIAL COURT: Warren County Court of Common Pleas
ATTORNEYS: Phillips Law Firm, Inc., John H. Phillips, Gregory A. Keyser, 9521
Montgomery Road, Cincinnati, OH 45242, for plaintiff-appellee
Michael G. Cox, 8872 Debold-Koebel Road, Pleasant Plain, OH 45162,
defendant-appellant, pro se
The Twelfth District Court of Appeals has affirmed in part and reversed in part a
decision against a Warren County attorney for breach of contract and theft.
In September 2004, attorney Michael G. Cox entered into an agreement with Estate
Planning Legal Services, a provider of marketing and document services for estate lawyers.
Pursuant to the terms of the agreement, EPLS would provide leads to Cox and set up
appointments of potential clients interested in estate planning services. In exchange, Cox
agreed to pay EPLS half of the fee paid by each client. In early 2005, the relationship
between the parties began to sour. Cox claimed that EPLS was providing a very high
percentage of bad leads, sent him on "wild goose chases," and required him to provide
marketing services. As a result, Cox withheld EPLS's percentage of the fees. EPLS filed suit
against Cox for breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, theft, conversion and unjust
enrichment. Following discovery, EPLS filed a motion for summary judgment. The trial court
granted judgment in favor of EPLS on its claims for breach of contract, breach of fiduciary
duty and theft, awarding $50,972 in damages.
On appeal, Cox argued the trial court erred in granting the decision in favor of EPLS.
Writing a decision for a unanimous court, Presiding Judge William W. Young affirmed
the breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty claims, but reversed the finding of theft by
deception. Judge Young found that Cox breached the contract and his fiduciary duty by
failing to pay pursuant to the contract. Further, Cox presented no evidence of his allegations
against EPLS. Judge Young also reversed the finding of theft because EPLS failed to show
that no genuine issue of material fact existed. Judges H.J. Bressler and Stephen W. Powell
concurred in the decision.
The decision of the Twelfth District Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court in part,
reversed the trial court in part and the case was remanded for further proceedings.